Liz Nugent tells Graham Norton: 'The more disturbing aspects of my new book are in the reader's imagination'

Virgin Radio

27 Feb 2023, 10:17

Liz Nugent and Graham Norton

The Irish novelist had a chat with her countryman this weekend.

Best selling author Liz Nugent has a new book out. It's called Strange Sally Diamond and word on the street - we imagine, we didn't actually go out on the street and ask people - is that it's amazing.

When Liz popped into The Graham Norton Radio Show With Waitrose this weekend, we asked her what the book is about.

"Sally Diamond comes to the attention of the media and her community," says Liz, "when she disposes of her dead father in quite an unorthodox manner. Her behaviours have been strange. She pretends to be deaf to avoid any social interaction, something I wish I had thought of myself. It's only after the media and the police get involved, because she put her father out with the bins, that she realises that her father has left all these letters that explain a lot about her."

Liz continues, "She's always known that she was adopted. But what she didn't know was what her background was. So she discovers that she came from a place of trauma."

Okay, consider us intrigued!

Graham noted that the book is set in the pair's native Ireland.

"It's set in a small village in rural Ireland," confirms Liz, "and Sally lives outside the village down a dirt lane. She's always sort of been on the outside. She did go through a regular school system, but she didn't make any friends. She likes her own company. And she's been allowed to do what she wanted all her life. So at the age of 40 she has never had a job. She's never gone to college. Her father, her adoptive father, is a psychiatrist, and he has used her as a as a specimen, really."

"He's observed her and recorded her behaviour for her whole life," she says. "So she is kind of let loose to do what she wants, which is really to stay in hiding and to be a recluse."

Graham then went on to ask if Liz researched trauma, or if Sally's experiences are of the authors own creation.

"I don't research those kinds of things," says Liz. "I just put myself inside her head. I asked myself what the most natural response to a trauma like hers would be. What would happen? So that's the way I did it. I'm not a psychiatrist. I have no training. So it's really my imagination. And the more disturbing aspects of the book, I guess, are really in the reader's imagination, because there's nothing graphic in the book."

She continues, "I don't describe any of the really bad stuff that happened, and if readers are disturbed, that's great. But really, it's their imagination. Not mine..."

Okay, we just went out on the street and asked the first passer by what they thought of Liz Nugent's new book and they said, "it's excellent". So you should probably buy it ASAP.

Listen to The Graham Norton Radio Show every Saturday AND Sunday from 9:30 am on Virgin Radio or catch up on-demand here.